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Early childhood education has been my life for over 30 years. I have taught all age groups from infants to 5-year-olds. I was a director for five years in the 1980s, but I returned to the classroom 22 years ago. My passion is watching the ways children explore and discover their world. In the classroom, everything starts with the reciprocal relationships between adults and children and between the children themselves. With that in mind, I plan and set up activities. But that is just the beginning. What actually happens is a flow that includes my efforts to invite, respond and support children's interface with those activities and with others in the room. Oh yeh, and along the way, the children change the activities to suit their own inventiveness and creativity. Now the processes become reciprocal with the children doing the inviting, responding and supporting. Young children are the best learners and teachers. I am truly fortunate to be a part of their journey.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Classroom picture of the year 2016

For the past three years, I have been writing a post I call "classroom picture of the year."  I have an ulterior motive for such a post.  I usually write exclusively about what happens at the sensory table.  With this post, I feel like I can give myself license to talk about something wonderful that happened in another area of the classroom.

My classroom picture of the year for 2016 comes from the large muscle area in my classroom.  For me this is one of the most important areas because young children need to be able to move when their body tells them to move.  The large muscle area is defined by a 5' x 12' blue gym mat.  I usually change what is available to the children every other week.

One of the places I store some of the large muscle equipment is a closet off the cafeteria.  It just so happens that is also where community education stores some of their equipment for adult education classes.  For several years now, when I went into that closet, I would see blue steps for step aerobics.  This year, I decided to borrow some of them and set them out in the large muscle area.

In the hands of the children, the aerobic steps turned out to be large loose parts for the children to stack.  Consequently, these big blue step created the foundation for my classroom picture of the year: a child launching himself into the air.
The children started stacking the aerobics steps on top of each other in order to create a perch from which to jump.  On this particular day, they settled on six steps .  The six aerobic blocks were shoulder-height for this child.   When he jumped, he went vertical almost another foot.  He was flying; he was defying gravity.  He measured his own risk and proved to himself his physical skills.  Imagine the exhilaration this child must have felt.

For me, this is a perfect example of the power inherent in children: the power to shape and act upon their own world with an alacrity that comes from feeling competent.  And that is why I am calling it my classroom picture of the year for 2016.

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